Laonastes and the "Lazarus Effect" in Recent Mammals

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Science  10 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5766, pp. 1456-1458
DOI: 10.1126/science.1124187

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The living Laotian rodent Laonastes aenigmamus, first described in early 2005, has been interpreted as the sole member of the new family Laonastidae on the basis of its distinctive morphology and apparent phylogenetic isolation from other living rodents. Here we show that Laonastes is actually a surviving member of the otherwise extinct rodent family Diatomyidae, known from early Oligocene to late Miocene sites in Pakistan, India, Thailand, China, and Japan. Laonastes is a particularly striking example of the “Lazarus effect” in Recent mammals, whereby a taxon that was formerly thought to be extinct is rediscovered in the extant biota, in this case after a temporal gap of roughly 11 million years.

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